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Socrates and the Sophists

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Dr Armand D’Angour (University of Oxford) explores the intellectual figures active in 5th- and 4th-century BC Athens known as the Sophists, as well as the figure of Socrates, who may or may not be considered one of their number. In the first lecture, we think about the philosophy in the Greek world before the fifth century BC, including the figures of Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes. After that, in the second lecture, we think about the movement known as the Sophists itself – who were the Sophists? In the third lecture, we think about whether Socrates should be considered a Sophist, before turning in the fourth and fifth lectures to think about the Sophists’ involvement in two issues of great importance in fifth-century Athens: the art of rhetoric and religion. In the sixth lecture, we look more closely at the figure of Socrates before turning in the seventh and final lecture to consider Socrates’ trial and execution in 399 BC. We know what Socrates was officially charged with, but was he really brought to trial for another reason?

About the Lecturer

Armand D’Angour is a Professor of Classics at the University of Oxford, having pursued careers as a cellist and businessman before becoming a Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Jesus College in 2000. He has published articles and chapters on the music, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, and regularly presents his research in the UK and abroad. He was commissioned to write Odes in ancient Greek for both the Athens Olympics in 2004 and the London Olympics in 2012. In 2013-2015 he won a British Academy Fellowship to conduct research into reconstructing the sounds of ancient Greek music, which led to a project that won him a Vice-Chancellor's Prize for Public Engagement with Research at Oxford and a widely-viewed video of a concert at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford 'Rediscovering Ancient Greek Music (2017)'.

Professor D'Angour's recent books include Music, Text, and Culture in Ancient Greece (2018, co-edited with Tom Phillips), and an investigative biography of the philosopher Socrates, concentrating on his early life and links with the renowned woman intellectual Aspasia of Miletus (Socrates in Love: The Making of a Philosopher, 2019).

How to Innovate: an Ancient Guide to Creative Thinking was published by Princeton in 2021; he is currently working on a book for the same series entitled How to talk about Love: an Ancient Guide to Eros, and at the same time he is investigating (for a future book) how the singing of Homer's epics can throw light on the vexed Homeric Question.